When Urban Meyer became the coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, he said he wanted to put players in the best position to succeed. In theory, it sounded like a good approach but failed to put it into practice. Meyer's inability to connect with his players was one of the many reasons he was kicked to the curb less than a year after he got the job. In contrast, Doug Pederson has excelled at empowering his players because he knows that without them, he can't do his job.
Just before the trade deadline, Pederson made an appearance on the Pat McAfee Show and talked about the importance of empowering players.
"When you empower your players, it doesn't always have to fall on my shoulders," Pederson told host Pat McAfee. "You empower the players to be great and let them kind of control the football team. It's their team, and let them go play."
Pederson went on to talk about his second season as the coach of the Philadelphia Eagles and how empowering players helped them win the Super Bowl.
"We have to steer the ship, let them go. That's what they did back in Philly in 17'. We lost a lot of good players. We lost Darren Sproles that year. We lost Jason Peters that year, Chris Maragos for the year, we lost our starting quarterback for the year. But it was a matter of empowering the team, much like here in Jacksonville, letting the guys take over and that's really what carries you through the hard times. Really, that's what carried us through the Super Bowl that year," Pederson said.
Pederson has used the same approach in Jacksonville. So far, it's been a success. Last year, they won the AFC South and made the playoffs. This season, their 6-2 record is tied for the best in the NFL. Here's Doug Pederson's full exchange with Pat McAfee. Doug P also reacts live to the Ezra Cleveland trade:
The Jacksonville Jaguars will enjoy sustained success under Doug Pederson
When Pederson took over in Jacksonville, one of his biggest challenges was helping the team heal and gain the players' trust. Urban Meyer failed to take accountability and fostered an environment of mistrust during his short stint in Jacksonville. Pederson had to prove to his players he wasn't the same, and he did.
Players quickly bought into his message and although they got off to a slow start to the 2022 season, they finished strong and went on to qualify for the playoffs. The Jags have now picked up where they left off last year and are riding a five-game winning streak entering their BYE. That's been possible because Pederson fully trusts his players. In the same manner, players know their head coach will get the most out of them but will also treat them with respect.
Although the Jags won the AFC South and reached the conference game in 2017, that team wasn't built to last. Leaving aside David Caldwell's inability to consistently replenish the roster, then-executive vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin failed to treat his players like adults. Not surprisingly, the Jags came crashing down in 2019, and by 2020, they had hit rock bottom.
The bottom line is that the Jacksonville Jaguars should enjoy sustained success under Doug Pederson. Based on the results, it looks like their trip to the playoffs in 2022 was just the first of many to come.